THE 20-team field for the inaugural SARU Community Cup for SAâ€™s top club rugby teams was confirmed by SARU on Tuesday. The competition kicks off in February 2013.
The top-ranked non-university clubs from each of the 14 provinces will be joined by Wild Card clubs Raiders (Golden Lions), Bloemfontein Crusaders (Free State), African Bombers (Eastern Province), SK Walmers (Western Province) and Roses United (Boland).
Noordelikes Rugby Club of Polokwane will complete the 20-team field, following the Committeeâ€™s confirmation that Limpopo’s champions would henceforth qualify automatically for the tournament each year.
â€śWith the 20 teams now announced, we can well and truly begin the countdown to a new era for club rugby,â€ť said SARU CEO Jurie Roux. â€śWe’ve got just over 100 days to go until the first match in Durban, and with it the chance to write a bold new chapter.â€ť
Roux said that SARU hoped to confirm the announcement of a major new sponsor for the Community Cup in the near future.
The competition, which will replace the National Club Championships and is identical in format to the Rugby World Cup, will begin on Saturday 16 February 2013 with eight first-round matches spreadÂ across four pools and played at club venues across the length and breadth of the country.
Jonsson College Rovers earned the right to host the opening ceremony and match in Durban after winning the final National Club Championships in Rustenburg in September.
The 20 clubs will be divided into four pools of five, with each club playing two home and two away matches over a period of five weeks.
The top two clubs from each pool will then advance to the knockout stages, with the eight teams playing quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals at Outeniqua Park in George over the Easter long weekend.
The inaugural SARU Community Cup final will be played on Easter Monday, 1 April 2013, with the remaining six teams competing for the Plate, Shield and Bowl.
The tournament will culminate in an annual Grand Final to determine the overall national club champion between the winners of the Community Cup and the FNB Varsity Cup, presented by Steinhoff International.
Pools and fixtures will be announced in due course.
SARU Community Cup â€“ automatic qualifiers:
Blue Bulls â€“ Pretoria Police
Blue Bulls Limpopo â€“ Noordelikes
Boland â€“ Villagers Worcester
Border â€“ Old Selbornians
Eastern Province â€“ Despatch
Free State â€“ Bloemfontein Police
Golden Lions â€“ Roodepoort
Griffons â€“ Welkom Rovers
Griquas â€“ Sishen
KZN â€“ College Rovers
Leopards â€“ Rustenburg Impala
Mpumalanga â€“ White River
SWD â€“ Evergreens
Valke â€“ Brakpan
Western Province â€“ Durbanville-Bellville
African Bombers (Eastern Province)
Bloemfontein Crusaders (Free State)
Raiders (Golden Lions)
Roses United (Boland)
SK Walmers (WP)